John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 03/23/2023

    Amazon Gets Ready to Go to Court Over Its Biometric Data Collection

    My hunch is that shoppers won't like the retailer's use of biometric tracking. If there is signage announcing this collection, some shoppers will change stores.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2023

    Will ChatGPT reinvent search?

    Everyone who is enthusiastic about ChatGPT and its potential to enhance the online retail experience, should google "Bing chatbot unhinged."
  • Posted on: 02/14/2023

    Should grocers be demanding price decreases from suppliers?

    Whole Foods, Kroger, Walmart and other big guys have leverage. John's Food 4 Less, a one-store operator in mid-America, does not have leverage.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2023

    Which drives you crazier? ‘Tipflation’ or tip creeping?

    I have never understood -- and have ignored -- tipping in self-serve or counter-served establishments. That is better than making me annoyed.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2023

    What do Walmart closings say about the viability of pickup-only grocery stores?

    Grocery pick-ups were popular during COVID because shoppers wanted this option. Post-COVID, some shoppers still want this option as part of the walk-in store. But shoppers are not "demanding" a pick-up only store. Whoever thought so, miscalculated.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2023

    Will Wegmans customers check out smart carts in a big way?

    This is just another example of technology for technology's sake. If it can be done, it must be good. First of all, it's too complicated. Second, shoppers won't like it. Third, grocers should just add more checkout lanes with capable cashiers, which would increase a store's customer service. What was it that Spike Lee said?
  • Posted on: 02/01/2023

    Is technology the answer to better customer experiences in grocery stores?

    Is technology the answer to better customer experiences in grocery stores? The short answer is no. Consider the history of "innovations" that have come and gone (beacons to deliver coupons to a shopper's smartphone), innovations that never caught on (electronic shelf-edge price tags and roaming robots like Marty), innovations that continue to annoy more shopper than they please (self-checkout terminals), and others. The answer to better customer experiences in grocery stories is to focus on the fundamentals: outstanding customer service, quality perishables and good prices.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2023

    Hy-Vee uses tech and people to deliver a sense of awe in its stores

    Cool technologies such as wayfinding, digital ordering kiosks, electronic shelf tags, recipe kiosks and the like can create a unique and interesting store, especially for younger shoppers. It may be a temporary competitive advantage in an over-stored marketplace. But is this really what most shoppers want? Or is it technology for technology's sake? I believe the winning formula for grocery stores is outstanding customer service, quality perishables and good prices. That is where a grocer's investment should be.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2023

    Will reducing organic fraud help justify higher prices?

    Most consumers of organics won't even know about the stricter certification guidelines unless grocers tell them via signage in stores. Will it affect acceptance of high prices? Not really. Either you are an organics buyer or not under any circumstances.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2023

    Consumers get some relief as inflation eases

    The real question about an easing of inflation will be the fate of store brands. Will their sales decline if inflation eases? We won't know for quite a while because economists who I trust predict a recession in 2023.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2023

    Study says retail jobs are just the worst

    I agree with the comments that frontline jobs are very stressful. For that reason alone, these workers should be paid more. Rather than increase pay for cashiers, for example, grocers install self-checkout terminals, which do not ask for a pay raise.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2023

    Do drinking and shopping mix?

    Wine bars work well in the supermarkets that have them. At least I haven't heard of any problems. Open-container drinking "might" work well at outdoor shopping centers. Why not try it on a trial basis and see what happens?
  • Posted on: 01/05/2023

    Can enhanced self-checkout stop shrink?

    Most honest shoppers do not like using self-checkout terminals because there is always a problem ("Help is on the way!") The only shoppers who like self-checkout are the folks who consistently get away with shoplifting goods. Shrink will continue even with enhanced terminals.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2022

    Will Walmart customers ‘Text to Shop’?

    Shoppers under 50 years of age (and especially Millennials) will try this feature to determine if it's worthwhile. Most folks over 50 (and especially over 60) won't because they think it's another in a long line of needless techno nonsense.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2022

    Will 2023 be all about value?

    Sure, high food prices and stagnant wages are driving some shoppers to value retailers, thus hurting mainstream grocers to a degree. The good news for the latter is that private label sales are rising at the same time. All of this puts pressure on higher priced name brands.

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